Consumer Culture 

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Best Way to Impress a New Flame in the Kitchen
So you want to invite your new beau to your place for dinner, but there’s just one teensy problem: You don’t know the difference between bouillon and bouillabaisse, a skillet and a grill pan, chardonnay and Viognier. Let STAR PROVISIONS come to the rescue. The upscale market flanks Bacchanalia, one of the city’s finest restaurants, and offers plenty of options for piecing together the perfect, premade dinner-to-go. A meal of flank steak and arugula, with a side of risotto, a simple starter of French baguette and chevre, a dessert of Valrhona chocolate cake, and a heady cabernet to wash it down won’t come cheap, but all you have to do is follow the reheating instructions. You do know how to turn on the oven, right?
1198 Howell Mill Road. 404-365-0410. starprovisions.com.

Best Bakery for the Quaintest Cakes
The cakes at HIGHLAND BAKERY aren’t like the ones you might find at those fancy cake makers, where towering layers impose in their perfection. Instead, there’s something comfortably homey, with a fair dose of bohemian chic, in the rows of cakes dressed with orange and yellow daisies and other unpretentious adornments. From carrot and coconut to traditional chocolate or yellow, the cakes’ ingredients are organic and as wholesome as can be without compromising taste. Or, as one fan puts it, she’d like to bathe in Highland Bakery’s buttercream frosting. The bakery’s sweet-potato pancakes are nothing to scoff at, either — and serve as the perfect excuse to pick up a special-occasion cake during breakfast hours.
665 Highland Ave. 404-586-0772.

Best Place to Furnish a Jetsons’ Pad
In addition to providing a new drooling venue for contemporary-furniture enthusiasts, CONTEXT has taken the pioneering step of opening its spacious downtown showroom in a historic 1930s building that originally housed a car dealership serving nearby Sweet Auburn. The store specializes in monochromatic modernist pieces — such as a series of overlapping drawers that looks like a bright-red, free-standing spiral staircase — as well as designs that make innovative use of natural fibers and organic materials, as with floor fans fashioned from chrome and woven rattan. Just in is a line of exquisitely restored vintage chairs from such masters as Marcel Breuer and Eero Saarinen, proving everything old is new again.
75 John Wesley Dobbs Ave. 404-477-3301. contextgallery.com.

Best Store for Buying Shabby-Chic Decor
Merchandise spills out into the parking lot from MELROSE ON PONCE’s loaded front porch. Weathered benches, plant stands and peculiar lamp bases hint at what awaits inside the quirky bungalow-style home-decor store. The shop is a maze of hallways and rooms littered with new, antique and vintage housewares, as well as local arts and crafts. Make grandma proud with a dainty wood bedside table, painted black with mismatched knobs and skinny legs, on sale for $20, or create a patchwork wall with worn wooden picture frames at $7 a pop.
345 W. Ponce de Leon Ave., Decatur. 404-378-1013.

Best Resource for Cobbling Together a New Kitchen
Georgia nonprofit Habitat for Humanity does more than build homes for the needy. It also offers donated home-renovation supplies to the public — at a fraction of their retail cost — through a Grant Park outpost called RESTORE. ReStore, which recently expanded to 4,000 square feet of warehouse space, offers brand-new stainless-steel appliances, cabinets, sinks, countertops, flooring, windows and light fixtures. There’s even high-end dishes and silverware. If you’re looking beyond the kitchen, ReStore also offers indoor and outdoor furniture, Jacuzzi tubs, area rugs, and just about anything you might need to spruce up your home. The best part: All proceeds benefit Habitat for Humanity, which means someone else gets the home they deserve, too.
519 Memorial Drive. 404-525-2114. www.atlantahabitat.org/restore.asp.

Best Post-Lakewood Rummaging Spot
Folks loved Lakewood because, in addition to the costly antiques, there was plenty of good junk and funky tchotchkes to be had at reasonable prices. Long known as Lakewood’s upmarket cousin, SCOTT ANTIQUE MARKET had higher-end collectibles at higher prices — and it still does. But many former Lakewood merchants have set up shop at Scott, even spilling out onto the grass beside the convention hall. Sure, it still has Shaker furniture with laugh-out-loud price tags, but you can also find post cards, tea pots, old radios and tacky commemorative plates you didn’t even know you needed.
3650 Jonesboro Road. 740-569-2800. scottantiquemarket.com.

Best Bizarre Signage
Driving east on Glenwood Avenue away from the city, you take a right on Second Avenue, just shy of the East Lake Golf Club. You notice a warning on your right, painted in 3-foot-tall letters on a cement wall: “Wake Up!” Thus you are alert and prepared for the oddity on the wall’s other side. The ramshackle building is painted bright yellow, and its façade displays, in crooked, cut-out, red-and-blue lettering, not the business’s name, per se — as there is no discernible name — but a confounding description of what goods and services might be found inside. The words “PETS ‘N BAIT” are followed, inexplicably, by “TAXES,” after which comes the similarly incongruous “TIRES (NEW & USED).” Your guess is as good as ours.
1819 Second Ave.

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